The Mighty Logo

What to Do If You Think Your Mental Illness Has Been Misdiagnosed

The most helpful emails in health
Browse our free newsletters

Identifying mental illness can either be tricky or easy depending on the symptoms. In my case, I was diagnosed with bipolar disorder, but also present symptoms of borderline personality disorder. They are very similar, but also very different. However, they are so similar in symptoms, they are often misdiagnosed as one for the other. I am currently following these five steps to determine whether or not I have been misdiagnosed.

 1. Do your own research.

What is the illness you have been diagnosed with? What are its symptoms? How is it treated? These are all questions you should answer through your own research. And I don’t mean doing a Wikipedia search. I’m talking about reading medical journals and credible websites that will give you correct information and thorough opinions.

 2. Fill out an assessment.

Mental illness assessments are easily found online, but you have to make sure the source is credible. You also might be able to obtain an assessment or questionnaire from your therapist. Answer honestly and to the best of your knowledge to get the most accurate results.

3. Talk to those closest to you.

What do they see? What symptoms do they think you experience? It’s important to ask these questions to close friends and family who spend the most time with you. They see you differently than your doctor does, and may have some helpful insight about your diagnosis, or misdiagnosis.

4. Talk to your doctor.

Present your research and completed assessment to your doctor and ask him to look over the results. Ask him to have an open mind when doing so, and to consider the possibility that you have been misdiagnosed. Do not settle for just an “OK” answer — keep pushing until you are satisfied.

5. If necessary, seek a second opinion.

If your doctor wasn’t interested in exploring the possibility of misdiagnosis, and you are still asking questions, seek a second opinion. A fresh pair of eyes and an open pair of ears may be what you need to get the answers you seek.

Misdiagnosis is common, and it can also be dangerous. Misdiagnosis could mean the treatment you receive is incorrect and ultimately ineffective. Taking the wrong medication or being overmedicated could cause unnecessary mood changes and a general discontent feeling. I am currently on step four — my doctor has agreed to investigate whether or not I have been misdiagnosed. If you believe you have the wrong diagnosis, I encourage you to follow these five steps and get your questions answered.

The Mighty is asking the following: Create a list-style story of your choice in regards to disability, disease or mental illness. Check out our Submit a Story page for more about our submission guidelines.

Originally published: June 14, 2016
Want more of The Mighty?
You can find even more stories on our Home page. There, you’ll also find thoughts and questions by our community.
Take Me Home